A Comfort Zone

The most asked question about “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is, “What does it
mean? It is a lullaby, a song of comfort and a song to mollify fear. I can
safely state this because for almost 60 years I have been performing the
“Lion” all over the USA and many parts of the world. I have been told a
book-full of stories about fans reaction to the record we recorded in in July of
1961and the majority of these “Lion Tales” have been about it’s calming and
peaceful effect. In the motion picture “Matinee” it plays after the World War
III threat raised by the Cuban Missile Crisis is resolved and the world is again
able to see tomorrow after teetering on the brink of destruction. As a
powerful example of the soothing quality The Lion Sleeps I can share the
experience I had during a Tokens’ performance in Pleasanton, California
about 20 years ago. The venue was a Veteran’s Post. Since it was a hall more
than a theater there was no “lighting” just lights which were up for the whole
show. As our act was proceeding I noticed from the stage a rather large man
at the back of the hall was peering at me. He stood out because he must have
been around 6’ 6” tall. As the show progressed he would move closer and
closer to our low platform, makeshift stage. We closed with “The Lion Sleeps
Tonight” and when we finished our final “Wimoweh” and took our bows, the
big fellow came eye to eye with me even though I was already standing a foot
or so off the floor. I saw that he had tears in his eyes as he grabbed me in a
bear hug. Then, almost sobbing he said,”I’m not a hugger but thank you, you
guys got me through The Nam.” There was a rush of people to the stage to
get autographs and buy CDs but afterwards the Viet Nam Vet told me what
had happened.

He was on his first night patrol in a South Vietnamese jungle. It was cold and
raining and he could hear a firefight going on in the distance. His heart was
racing and all six and a half feet and two hundred and fifty pounds of him felt
as if he were in an alternate dimension and couldn’t get his feet to move.
Suddenly out of nowhere he heard the opening strains of The Lion Sleeps
Tonight. Wee-Dee-Dee-Dee Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee a Wee-um-um-a-weh.
He said, “I wasn’t sure where exactly is came from but it instantly comforted
me and made me think of home and somehow I thought everything would be
alright and I got going and moved towards the firefight. Thank you.” He
hugged me again.

So, we are in a war now and the lion is and has been sleeping since the war
started. The lion is us but the power in is leadership. The POTASSWIPE has
failed in so many areas of this nightmare we are in that there are no words to
describe his incompetence, ignorance, incredulity and inability to tell the
truth. So listen up and sing along.

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